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The Psychology of Property Law$
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Stephanie M. Stern and Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479835683

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479835683.001.0001

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Ownership and Possession

Ownership and Possession

(p.21) 1 Ownership and Possession
The Psychology of Property Law

Stephanie M. Stern

Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir

NYU Press

This chapter addresses the psychological significance of ownership and possession and explores how people perceive them. It shows that an individual’s notion of possession is not necessarily physical but may extend to intangible entitlements and expectations. This state of affairs may support a broadening of the law’s understanding of possession. In addition, the chapter analyzes the relative strength of ownership and possession, which is highly relevant to conflicts between owners and possessors, including the doctrines of first possession and adverse possession. The chapter also employs psychological insights to justify seemingly paradoxical legal rules, according to which owners have more freedom to use their property intensively than to refrain from using it at all, more freedom to restrict the transfer of property totally than to subject it to conditions, and more freedom to destroy the property than to modify or change it.

Keywords:   Ownership, Possession, endowment effect, mere ownership effect, first possession, adverse possession, self- help, long-term tenants, overoptimism, omission bias

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